CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia University officials on Friday announced plans to work with a private company and build a $70 million residential and retail complex in Morgantown's Sunnyside district, a few blocks from the Downtown Campus.
The project will provide nearly 1,000 more beds for WVU students and will include two multi-story buildings on three acres, plus community outdoor space and parking facilities, university officials said.
In addition to 297,000 square feet of rentable space and 268,000 square feet of "student space," the complex will include a full-service grocery store, a substation for university police, a fitness center and a restaurant, according to a news release from WVU.
Before work can be done on the new development -- to be called University Place and projected to be finished by the fall of 2014 -- tenants now within the project's boundaries will have to move out by late December or early January, according to a WVU news release.
That includes students and nonstudent residents living on parts of University Avenue, Grant Avenue, Third Street and Houston Drive.
"We will work with each and every individual student to make sure they have an opportunity to find acceptable housing. We have a lot of options on and off campus," said Narvel Weese, WVU's vice president of administration and finance.
The university will absorb any moving fees, and students who move will have the option to pay the rental amount from their old homes regardless of their new residence, according to Weese. WVU will pay the difference.
"Our goal is to make this as seamless and as less stressful as possible for students," Weese said. "Quite frankly, if you look at Sunnyside, almost anything available would be an upgrade. The bottom line is, we're taking care of our students."
WVU Housing Director Corey Farris said no students would be forced to move.
Zach Redding, WVU's student body president, voted to approve the project earlier this week at the WVU Board of Governors meeting. He said Friday that while he sees the benefits of the project, he thinks students living in the Sunnyside district have been caught off guard.
"I see a great opportunity for expansion and change. With that said, change is never easy, and there will be some speed bumps during this process. Today, residents of Sunnyside found out that they would need to move by December of this year," Redding said. "I think, out of fairness, they should have been notified earlier, therefore giving them a greater opportunity to make plans and situate themselves for the rest of the year."